April 14, 2008
Is Islam Compatable With the Modern World? Obama Says Yes
Obama may be right, but I have serious reservations. It’s something that Muslims are going to have to work out themselves.
Certainly I think that Islam will have a much harder time coming to terms with modernity than Western civilization did. And to think the transition was easy for us is to overlook several hundred years of bloodshed.
For Christians a move towards a more fundamentalist understanding of their roots was a move toward separation of church and state. For Muslims it is a move away from it.
It is this very basic problematic that makes equivocations between the two faiths so ill informed.
Nevertheless, I don’t fault Obama for making the statement. Our politicians have to lie. It’s called diplomacy.
Our political leaders have to say that Islam is peaceful and that Samuel Huntington’s civilizational clash thesis is wrong. I expect them to say this. I want them to say this.
Because every time any one–let alone a political or religious leader–suggests otherwise, Muslims around the world erupt into violence, call for a return to the Dark Ages, and their governments promptly threaten a clash of civilizations if we don’t take it back!
I only hope and pray that our leaders know they’re not telling the truth. Because if they actually believe the garbage that routinely comes out of the mouths of both Republican and Democratic politicians, then we’re screwed.
It’s odd, too, that Obama uses his time in Indonesia [he was there under the successive secular dictatorships of Sukarno then Suharto] as a measure of how moderate & compatible with modern values Islam really is. For that matter it’s not even fair to argue that since most Muslims just want the same things that you and I want–food, clothing, shelter, raising a family–that Islam itself isn’t potentially dangerous.
Of course the vast majority of Muslims just want to raise their families, but so do the vast majority of communists, the vast majority of fascists, etc. It is not Islam as a religious movement that I object to, it is Islam as a political movement which is a problem.
An episode of Red Dwarf perfectly illustrates what Hannah Arendt termed the banality of evil when the crew went back in time to have dinner with the Hitlers. The Hitlers were described as throwing the most fabulous dinner parties.
I’ll go to a ball game with a communist, hang out with them, compare notes on hot celebrity babes–and in fact, frequently do just this! I’m in academia, remember? A communist might be cool, but communism has been the source of more death, destruction, and oppression than any other political system of the 20th Century.
It’s not how Muslims, as individuals, worship God that worries me. It’s not how Muslims, as individuals, treat me that is a problem. It’s what happens when Muslims, acting through the power of the state, tend to trample on the most basic tenets of religious and speech freedoms that I fear.
Islam will remain in the same category as fascism and communism as long as even ‘moderate’ & ‘secular’ Muslims demand legal penalties for criticizing Muhammad & leaving the faith.